The best leopard gecko tank setup is the one that mimics their natural environment the most. The better the setup, the better the health of your leopard gecko will be. Below is a descriptive tutorial on how to set up a permanent habitat for your leopard gecko.
- 1 Leopard Gecko Terrarium
- 2 Tank Size
- 3 Tank Setup
- 4 Tank Screen Cover
- 5 Lighting
- 6 Temperature Reading
Leopard Gecko Terrarium
Since leopard geckos are land dwellers, you should go with something that is long and wide, not tall and narrow. You should also go with something that holds in heat well. A standard fish tank will be suffice, or you may choose to go with a reptile tank like an Exo Terra Glass Terrarium Tank. If you go with a fish tank, just remember that a lid is needed to keep your gecko from climbing out.
The size tank for a leopard gecko varies based on the size and quantity of your leopard geckos. I mention quantity because some people may decide to buy a pair of leopard geckos, rather than just one. If you are planning on getting more than one, I would suggest to keep the pair to a male:female or female:female ratio. Two male leopard geckos in one enclosure can cause serious issues (fighting and death), due to territorial matters. So to be on the safe side, check the sex of your leopard geckos before purchasing them. Below is a suggested reference on the leopard gecko tank sizes based on certain characteristics.
Baby Leopard Gecko Tank Size
|# of Baby Leo’s||Tank Size|
|1 Baby Leopard Gecko||10 Gallon Tank|
|2 Baby Leopard Geckos||10 Gallon Tank|
|3 Baby Leopard Geckos||15 Gallon Tank|
|4 Baby Leopard Geckos||20 Gallon Tank|
Adult Leopard Gecko Tank Size
|# of Adult Leo’s||Tank Size|
|1 Adult Leopard Gecko||20 Gallon Long Tank|
|2 Adult Leopard Geckos||20 Gallon Long Tank|
|3 Adult Leopard Geckos||30 Gallon Long Tank|
|4 Adult Leopard Geckos||40 Gallon Breeder Tank|
Now that you have an idea on the size tank that you should get for your leopard gecko, we will move on to what you should put inside the tank to make it look like a naturalistic environment.
Under Tank Heater and Controller
The first thing you should get is an under tank heater and a controller for the heater. The whole purpose of this UTH is to provide belly heat and to heat up the enclosure. Do not try to skip out on this part, because this helps with warmth, appetite, digestion, and etc… It plays a big part in terms of health. The most common type of under tank heater is the Zoo Med ReptiTherm® Under Tank Heater. Along with the UTH, you should get a controller to control the heat that it puts out. These things can heat up to 100+ degrees if not regulated. The two most used thermostats are the Hydrofarm Digital Thermostat and the Zoo Med ReptiTemp Rheostat.
Don’t forget… the UTH sticks onto the outside of the enclosure, not the inside. You would be surprised to know how many people place the heat mat on the inside. Also, make sure to place the UTH on one side of the terrarium, where you will be place a hide for your leopard gecko to sleep in.
The first item that you should place into your enclosure should be the substrate. As much as sand, coconut bark, eco earth, soil, and other loose type substrates look nice, try to stay away from them. Try going with a nice looking Reptile Carpet. You can read more on substrates on this leopard gecko substrate article.
Leopard geckos require 3 hides, which is why you want to get a long and wide tank as mentioned above. Below are the three recommended hides to get.
This is the hide that will be place directly on top of the under tank heater. For this hide, the Exo Terra Reptile Cave. It has a closed top so it remains completely dark inside of the hide, with an open bottom to allow heat from the heat pad to circulate the hide.
The humid hide will be the hide that you place directly in the middle of the enclosure. For this hide, the Zoo Med Humid Hide will work great. It acts as a steam room for your leopard gecko to help shed off old skin when your leopard gecko is going through the shedding process. In order for their to be humidity inside the humid hide, you must add a source of substrate in the hide. For this, you may use loose type substrate like sphagnum moss, eco earth loose coconut fiber, or a mix of both. Personally, I use the sphagnum moss. It retains water really well. Some people even go with paper towel, but I find that it dries out way too quickly. If you are on top of moistening your paper towels daily, then paper towels can be used.
The cool hide will be the hide you place on the opposite side of your warm hide. The whole purpose of this hide is to cool your leopard gecko off when he gets too hot. You should not have any type of heat directing towards this hide. You can use the same type of hide as mentioned above for the warm hide, or you can use a different sleek designed hide like the Exo Terra Reptile Den.
After your hides are in place, you should have a little room left over to play with. Foliage will be a great addition to the tank to add a naturalistic look. Do not overwhelm your enclosure with foliage, because you do need to leave space for your leopard gecko to move around and hunt easily. Small plants like the Exo Terra Star Cactus Terrarium Plant will be good additions to the enclosure.
Tank Screen Cover
Once you place your items into the enclosure, you must add your screen top to keep your gecko from climbing out. The screen top will also be holding your heat lamp.
The last thing you need for your leopard gecko’s enclosure is lighting. Lighting is very important because it will be providing your leopard gecko’s enclosure the replication of day time and night-time. You want to make sure that you keep your gecko’s lights on a timer with 12 hours on and 12 hours off. You can easily set this up with a Zoo Med Repti Day Night Timer. Or you can manually turn on and off your lights yourself.
You can get a single light fixture if you live somewhere warm (not needing a warm night-light), or a double light fixture like the Zoo Med Mini Combo Deep Dome Lamp Fixture which can hold your daylight bulb and night-time ceramic heat emitter. Not to mention, this works perfectly with the zoomed timer mentioned above to turn your lights on and off and the specified times that you set.
During the day, you should have a regular white light bulb lighting the enclosure. Since leopard geckos are nocturnal, the choice of bulb is not very important. The only thing you want to make sure is that your enclosure is reaching the right temperatures. Do not choose a bulb that has a low wattage if it’s cold where you live and do not choose a bulb that has a high wattage if it’s hot where you live.
At night, you have two options based on where you live. If it’s warm at night (somewhere like Florida), then you wont be needing any night lights as the temperatures will be fine. However, if you live somewhere cold (somewhere like Colorado), then you can use a Zoo Med Ceramic Infrared Heat Emitter 100 Watt bulb to raise the temperatures. This heat source emits heat with no light, so it will not affect your baby leopard gecko’s night activity.
It is very important to monitor your temperatures inside the enclosure. You do not want your enclosure to get too hot or too cold. If you use a digital thermometer like the Exo Terra Digital Thermometer, you will be able to read temperatures in each section of the enclosure easily. This can also help you decide what wattage bulbs you need for daytime and nighttime.